CDC: Rates of E. coli down; other foodborne illnesses stable

The incidence of infections caused by a severe form of E. coli declined significantly in 2009, meeting the government's 2010 Healthy People target, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections of E. coli O157, which can cause kidney failure, reached their lowest levels since 2004.

Although E. coli rates dropped, the rates of the other nine diseases tracked through the CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network have remained largely unchanged since 2004. Salmonella is the farthest away from meeting the 2010 Healthy People target. Experts suggest salmonella is more difficult to fight because it can be transmitted through a wide variety of both food and non-food sources, including contact with animals.

The rates of most of the infections tracked on FoodNet were highest among people younger than 4 and older than 50.

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